On Friday, I lobbed out the challenge for someone to name the one college football program to produce potentially three starting quarterbacks in the NFL this year. I was shocked that no one who emailed me did so with the correct answer.
The correct answer? The Fresno State Bulldogs (David Carr -- Houston Texans; Billy Volek -- Tennessee Titans; Trent Dilfer -- San Francisco 49'ers). Granted, including Dilfer is probably a stretch, but still, I find it amazing that a non-BCS school has produced so many top-flight quarterbacks worthy of starting in the NFL.
Following the after-evening-worship fellowship at Taco Bell last night and the addition of the Woodward Park members I had not thus far eaten with, I have now shared a table with 160 different people. The blessing of meeting, eating and sharing with so many different people in such a short time-span (11 days) has been a true blessing in my life.
Last night during his sermon, Paul Partlow raised an interesting question in relation to the ministry of Jesus. While talking about Jesus's interaction with a leprous man in Matthew 8, Paul asked, "Would Jesus avoid his kind or advance His kingdom?"
That is a powerfully convicting question and one that should give us pause today as we embark on living as Jesus in the world.
In each of our lives, we are periodically, if not daily, encountered by people who have been marginalized by society. People who, because of disease, poverty, dysfunction, etc. have been mistreated or worse yet, ignored.
Will we engage them or shun them?
In Luke 10.25-37, Jesus tells the famously powerful story of the Good Samaritan. But before the Good Samaritan is held out as the hero for advacing the reign of God through mercy and compassion, a priest and Levite are held out as examples to avoid. The priest and Levite pass by the man who'd been beaten and left in a ditch to die. For reasons Scripture doesn't record, they elect to avoid the man, leaving him to wallow in his misery.
When faced with the choice of advancing the kingdom or avoiding his kind, they chose avoidance.
What choice will I make today? What choice will you make?
In Jesus, we see an example of One who never took the path of least resistance but One who, even in the face of societal pressure, intentionally chose the path that would advance His kingdom, even if the person whom Jesus engaged was a person who'd been marginalized by all others.
Today, should you meet a "leper," I encourage you to follow the Way of Jesus: the Way of seeking first the kingdom by engaging people so as to advance the kingdom of God in this world.